Filters, Content Warnings, and Improving Your Mastodon Feed

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

This article gained traction over the past couple weeks, and it mentioned something that I feel like I keep seeing casual Mastodon users complain about:

People relentlessly calling Twitter the “birdsite”

Do they???? I got heckled once of twice for calling "Twitter" by it's name like once or twice back in November, but it literally never happens to me anymore. So I made a poll to see what my followers thought about people using the term, and while it's still open, the results seem pretty conclusive for my corner of the fediverse.

I'm not going to invalidate other people's experiences, but I feel like this is a vestige of "old Mastodon" and doesn't hit the same way with most newer users.

Filters and Content Warnings

One response I've gotten to this is that people should put a content warning in front of any post about Twitter because many Mastodon users don't want to see it. I appreciate that the Twitter talk can be annoying, but I would say a couple things in response.

One, I snakily tweeted several times over the years that every time I checked in on Mastodon, all I saw were people talking about two topics:

  1. How much Twitter sucks.
  2. How much better Mastodon is than Twitter.

People like to paint the wave of new users on Mastodon as being obsessed with posting about Twitter and changing the vibe, but it really feels like Twitter talk has always been a core part of the Mastodon discourse. If anything, the wave of new people has made the topics more diverse and interesting. I've been using Mastodon on and off for 6 years and this is the first time it's gotten more interesting for me.

Two, content warnings are great for things like sports, TV show & movie spoilers, and talking about things that are widely considered to be offensive. This idea that some people can't be bothered with anything to do with Twitter, and therefore everyone should put their Twitter posts behind a content warning if frankly absurd. Person A can't stand Twitter posts, Person B can't tolerate tech rumors, Person C can't deal with crypto, Person D will flip if they see sports talk…literally everything is going to be uninteresting to someone out there, and putting a content warning on everything is completely unreasonable.

If something is innocuous, but annoying to you, I highly recommend you set up some filters. Here's how you do it in the web interface:

  1. Go to Preferences
  2. Go to Filters
  3. Add a new filter called whatever you want
  4. Add contexts for everywhere
  5. Enter your terms you want to block

And boom, you'll never see those words or phrases in your feed! And bonus, you can choose to hide entirely, or to have them appear, but be behind a custom content warning. Brilliant!

Apps also have some level of support for filters. Ivory lets you long press on something to filter it out, and Mona (shown below) has a page for it in the settings.


I think that content warnings have a place, but I also think that trying to CW everything that could be annoying to anyone else is impossible. Mastodon makes it very easy to follow who you want, and to filter out terms that you don't want to see. You are empowered to make your feed better.

  1. Unfollow people who regularly post about things that you don't like.
  2. Filter out words that you don't want to see in your feed.